Sunday, 20 January 2008

Remembering Sir Nits


Atty. Juanito Cambangay, retired chief of the Provincial Planning and Development Office of Bohol, can be considered one of the province’s inspiring development architects. Having served the province in different transition phases – from one governor to another, from centralized to decentralized governmental authority, from economic obscurity to growth and relative prosperity - “Nits”, as he is fondly called by friends and colleagues, was among those who can be credited for Bohol’s successful development efforts.

I do not claim to have known the man personally (He is “Sir Nits” to me, a sign both of respect and admiration). My close encounters with him were on a few occasions only. One time we worked together as member of the Philippine delegation tasked to evaluate a Japan International Cooperation Agency project, when I was still very young and inexperienced in a lot of things. On a car ride with him from Ubay to Tagbilaran, I had my first lessons in Development 101.

Years later, when Holy Name University’s Research Center was commissioned to do a research on the privatization of the provincial water utilities department, he was a very supportive respondent and critic of the work that Cynthia Reyes-Ayco (then Research Director) and I did. The interviews with him were like the classes in political economy that I took at the London School of Economics – insightful and visionary.

I should say I benefited much from these encounters and that his views on development work influenced me a lot. Personally, I think his early demise creates a significant void in Bohol’s development scene, and that his contributions will be remembered by people he shared his thoughts and opinions with.

When death comes at these unexpected moments, I am always reminded by Morrie Schwartz, who held a funeral service in anticipation of his death. If Sir Nits had one, I would surely invite myself to speak.

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